Monitor Walls

Using a monitor wall for your trade show display, in store advertisements or even in the

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office for large visual displays has become popular.  However, many people still aren’t sure how to setup a monitor wall.  In this article I’m going to describe the hardware and software that you can use to setup your own video wall.  I’m going to try and narrow down both the pros and cons of each, and include some basic information such as where you can buy the products I’m describing.

One of the easiest tools that you can use is called the Xtreme4vs video wall controller.  It recognizes both DVI-D and dual-link DVI input.  The cool thing about that is setup for your office or tradeshow display is super easy, because you can use many devices to drive the content of your display.  Everything from laptops to gaming consoles can be used.   Additionally, the Xtreme4vs was designed for LCD and DLP screens, but also handles projectors are wall cubes as well.  The Xtreme4vs can be used to drive up to 4 monitors, but what’s really cool is that you can actually link multiple units, giving you the ability to create a display of up to 16 monitors- truly a video wall!  Cost of on this monitor will run around $1699 from multi-monitors.com or $2299 from one of the many other dealers on the web.

Another popular video controller is the iVu9s, which is a popular model for those doing medical video walls and even satellite imagery.    This is a ultra-high resolution video controller designed for video walls of up to 9 screens with up to 1920×1200 resolution!  For those that are seeking ultra-high resolution, the iVu9s is probably your answer.

One of the best features of the iVu9s is the OSD keypad that is located on the front of the video wall controller.  This means super easy to use interface that allows for the easiest control.  Like the Xtreme4vs, the iVu9s can control both LCD and DLP screens.  It also drives video wall cubes and projectors.

Another nice feature of the iVu9s is the ease of being able to hookup a number of convenient configurations such as 3×3, 2×3 and 3×2 mode.  This means you can determine what configuration works best.  And because the iVu9s has a powerful bezel mask function, high resolution graphics will align perfectly.  While not aligning properly might be a mere annoyance for some video wall operators, for those looking at high resolution imagery such as satellite or medical images will find this feature especially important.

And one final feature of the iVu9s that you should consider is the RS-232 communication which means you can remotely control your video wall with your computer or laptop.   This is particularly cool for those that may be driving the screens remotely- such as a company setting up a trade show display, but not being able to attend!

Cost of the iVu9s is $2700 from multi-monitors.com or if you buy elsewhere, the MSRP is $3299.  The iVu9s is an economical choice for a video wall controller and should definitely be taken into consideration.

If you don’t mind spending a bit more cash, then the next step up is NEC’s TileMatrix.  As you’re probably aware, NEC tends to be the high end of digital signage.  It’s no secret that NEC uses premium quality parts, including panels that have enhanced digital signage technology suite embedded.  In this somewhat small and high competitive niche, NEC is the clear leader.  And when it comes to extra-large video displays, TileMatrix is no exception.  It certainly isn’t the cheapest option, but it blows away competition.   A full 55” of display arranged as a 2×2 configuration is one of the most awe inspiring setups that you can find.  And to make it better, TileMatrix has a lock down on a patent that creates what some consider the closest to seamless wall that you can find.  And making it even better is the fact that you don’t need any special equipment out of the Tilematrix to make it run!

One feature that I can really appreciate (and you should too) is the copy feature.  Essentially this feature allows you to setup one display and then apply it to multiple others.  You will appreciate the time this saves you in the long run!  Tilematrix also has RS-232 remote connectivity which uses Naviset software.  This makes remote setup via proxy extremely easy to do.

Because NEC uses high end parts and patented technology you can expect to around $37,000 retail.  However, because this is a one stop solution, in the end it may only end up being a few thousand more than their closest competition.  You can also plan on paying less if you shop at multi-monitors where you can purchase 55” NEC TIleMatrix for $33,000.

Another option from NEC is their 82” TileMatrix screen.   This means a full 27 feet of display that uses Tilecomp for amazing seamless bezel.    This 82” monster costs just under $50,000, but provides the extra space you may need to make a huge impression!  Because ambient lighting obstacles can be an issue, this display has high contrast, at 2000:1 to help overcome this.

Another popular NEC model is the MultiSync p461 which is 2x2x46 display. This means 2 flat panels giving you a huge display.  It comes with Digital Factory PerfectAlign mounting system making alignment super easy and only runs $12,995 at multi-monitors.com.   This is a good solution for those on a budget that still want the reliability and performance of an NEC video wall display.

For those that already have the hardware to drive a multiple monitor video wall, but want better and easier configuration, the VigiControl Video/Data Wall controller software may be your best bet.  You’ll appreciate how this software makes connecting and controlling multiple monitors a breeze, especially since you can connect through a LAN to do so.  VigiControl allows you to control stand alone Windows application programs such as positioning and even layout.  The result is easier to organize large displays, which can be challenging when trying to do this with Windows alone.

Vigicontrol also makes screen order much easier with its screen order utility- and if you combine this with VigiControl’s bezel masking feature- alignment is much easier too.  And organizing your application windows is easy too because DigiControl displays the desktop of the video wall server that is being managed.

Vigicontrol also has a really cool feature that helps avoid gaps in the video by using new technology that spreads images across breaks- the result is gaps being reduced and your original image is preserved.  VigiControl also has a function to split captured windows (both DVI and GGB) and allows scaling of each.  Cropping is then possible for each subbed individual window, a total of up to 16 windows.  Security officials often use this feature to monitor multiple windows per screen.

Cost wise, you can buy VigiControl Video and Data Wall Controller form Multi-Monitors.com for $1100, or from other retailers at the MSRP of $1299.  Either way it’s a steal consider the advantages it give you when setting up your video wall!

And finally, one other piece of equipment that I think is worth mentioning is the Matrox M9188 PCIe x16- a multi-cable card that connects up to 8 monitors to one computer system.   This is all done through one PCI slot, as opposed to the many typically needed for a multiple monitor computer.   It even supports DVI single link outputs, so it’s compatible with nearly all of today’s monitors.  Standard includes high resolution output on 8 monitors, possible because of it’s included 2 GB of memory and desktop management features.  Resolution of up to 2560×1600 is possible for DVI outputs.  Also, Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 has edge overlap technology incorporated, to create a seamless look, similar to what NEC tried to accomplish with their TileComp technology.  For video walls, this is not a perk, it’s a necessity!

It’s worth noting that the Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 allows multi-card support, meaning that  the same system can drive up to 16 different displays.  For trade show experts this is huge.  The Matrox Clone feature allows for the perfect 1×1 display!

The Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 also supports most Windows 32 and 64 bit operating systems, as well as Linux drivers.  Sadly, this is one of the few that provides open support for Linux users.  Easy crossover support is a huge perk for many setting up video walls, especially those that might use the multi-monitor PC for multiple purposes, trade show and otherwise.

Cost factor for the Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 is pretty reasonable.  From multi-monitors.com you can get the Matrox M9188 PCIe x16 for $2300 (although you’ll pay around $2600 from many other retailers.)

As you can see there are quite a few options for setting up your video wall, and these are just a few of the many options for setting up a video wall.  However, I think there are a few things that you’ll find as you research your video wall more.  Number one, I think you’ll discover that these options listed above represent a good variety of what you might find on the market.  Number two, I think you’ll discover that these products represent a median of what you can expect to pay for multi-monitor or video wall software.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that most of these products are available through specialized shops, such as multi-monitors.com or similar.  And while you may be able to find many of these products though other retailers, multi-monitors.com has the best prices around.  If you add to that fact that they also often lack the knowledge and expertise that the guys over at multi-monitors.com have, it’s easy to answer the question, “Where should I be buying my video wall controller.”

In fact, the guys over at multi-monitors.com have even helped setup controllers for some of the United States biggest organizations, which include the U.S. Navy and other branches of the military.  They’ve also help setup video walls for several companies for trade show displays and more.  Now surely that’s a good enough reason to consider them for your multiple-monitor video wall projects.  Just remember, this that in this industry, like so many others, you get quality from a well researched buy and buying from Multi-Monitors.com is a well researched company that you should certainly be considering when you setup your video wall!